Balancing the Grind with Sorrel Osborne, Head of Business Operations for Playground xyz

Sorrel Osborne is the Head of Business Operations for Playground xyz, a global adtech company which is part of the GumGum global group.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’m the Head of Business Operations for Playground xyz, a global adtech company which is part of the GumGum global group, having been acquired in December 2021.

I’ve previously worked in digital publishing for an independent Australian publisher, Conversant Media, where I held a variety of roles across sales, ad operations and business management,  eventually becoming COO of the business.

From there I moved to martech and was Head of Operations and Commercial for Audience Republic, a platform focused on selling more tickets for live events and festivals through driving viral word of mouth marketing.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Business Operations is a very broad field which means I am fortunate enough to work on a lot of the areas within our business including HR, finance and strategy, so there is really no such thing as a ‘typical day’, which I love!

On any given day I could be formulating strategic plans for 2023 and beyond with the global GumGum team, exploring budget and resource planning, hosting one of our overseas teams, or analysing our eNPS scores and creating training programs, events and other initiatives to improve them – plus anything else that might crop up!

3) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I don’t think I’ve done a great job at achieving work/life balance historically, to be honest, but the birth of my son, Lenny, 16 months ago really made me reassess how and where I’m spending my time. 

I am a quality over quantity parent and partner, so even on busy weeks/days I try to ensure I’m there when Len wakes up, we grab a coffee as a family (he’s more of an orange juice man) and hang out before the work day begins and then I’m always there for the dinner/bath/bed routine.

I’ve always had the opportunity to work in businesses with a global footprint, so there are times when early morning or late night calls crop up (at Playground xyz we have US, UK, Japanese and Singaporean teams) so one thing that is crucial is taking back some personal time when these types of things are happening. 

A really great part of our business culture is flexibility both from a WFH and scheduling perspective. If I’ve had a late night, I might start later the next day to spend more time with my family, or an early morning means a mid-afternoon knock off! It’s all about balancing it out and being present (not on my phone and emails!) when I’m not working.

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4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Given I’m in operations, I intentionally schedule ‘family time’ in my calendar. This might seem a little odd but I need to ensure that I’m available to our teams whenever I may be needed, so having time blocks in my calendar to ensure those times aren’t booked on other things is something that is crucial to my time management.

Over the last 12 months I’ve been a lot better at pushing back on meetings and work when they’re negatively impacting my personal life. I’m also very cognizant of demonstrating to our teams that that is ok, we all have lives and we don’t have to be available all the time. 

We have a lot of young parents at Playground (the last few years has seen a big baby boom!) and so ensuring that everyone sees that we’re all able to prioritise our families when we need to is something I really try and be mindful of!

5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I absolutely love The Squiz . It’s both a newsletter and a podcast and it gives a great update on what’s happening in the world around us.

The a16z podcast is also a favourite of mine, it discusses tech and culture trends, and what the future will hold technologically. 

For any Aussie entrepreneurs thinking they might be keen to start a business of their own, the Welcome to Day One podcast is also a great listen. It talks about the challenges, pitfalls and opportunities that come with being your own boss!

6) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

I’d love to know how Mel Perkins does it all, she’s such an impressive and compassionate entrepreneur and leader who has revolutionised the design and marketing industries, and I just don’t know how she does it!

7) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

There is no right or wrong way to do it. Everyone’s formula will be different, so trying to emulate what others are doing and feeling guilty when you can’t/don’t is a recipe for failure.

Maybe you can balance the grind inherently or maybe you need to be a little more structured (like me!). However you manage it, it’s how it works for you and that’s great!

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.